Senor frogs advertised itself as a family, friendly eatery. But a 19-page lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court Friday by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges female employees were sexually harassed, verbally and physically.
"You had women being groped on a daily basis, being touched inappropriately, inappropriate comments made about their bodies, their breasts. They were just made to feel uncomfortable every day they were in this workplace," EEOC senior trial attorney Amrita Mallik said.
The EEOC filed the suit on behalf of ten women who were bartenders, servers and hostesses at the Waikiki Senor Frog's before the restaurant closed in August. The alleged abusers were managers and higher-ups.
"It's been reported to us that women complained that some of these managers would engage in sexual activity with some employees, with a lot of female customers as well, right there in the facility," Mallik said.
She said the EEOC has been investigating since 2008. The lawsuit said the women complained to management.
"It was very difficult for these women to come forward, feel that their matters were heard, and actually get addressed, when they were complaining to some of the very people who were participating in this behavior," she said.
The suit said Senor Frog's retaliated by cutting their hours or firing them.
Altres Inc. is also named in the lawsuit.
Altres President and CEO Barron Guss said from 2007 to 2008 his company provided payroll and administration services to Senor Frog's.
"We never provided or managed staff and had no involvement in restaurant operations. We've been named in the suit simply because our name was on the paychecks," he said.
"The harassment, this behavior permeated up the highest levels of management. That's a big problem for us," Mallik said.
The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and injunctive relief.
Hawaii News Now was not able to get a response from the Hawaii law firm representing the restaurant.
Senior Frog's other eateries are on the mainland U.S., in Mexico and the Caribbean.